In a Facebook post Friday Barack Obama shared his summer travel plans to Africa and a summer reading list full of inspirational stories by some of Africa’s great nonfiction writers. In the post, Barack initially shares he is prepping for a return trip to Africa since leaving office to convene 200 young leaders from across the continent selected through the Obama Foundation. He also announced he will deliver a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth next week.
Talking about great memories from his past of visiting Africa as President and sharing his forthcoming plans to return for the Obama Foundation must have been the catalyst for the summer reading list.
“Over the years since, I’ve often drawn inspiration from Africa’s extraordinary literary tradition. As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers – each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways.”
The books Barack selected are inspirational nonfiction works that serve to remind us of the struggles we as humans have co-existing, and, the ambition and hope extraordinary humans have that we can co-exist.
It’s a perfect selection for those headed on a long beach vacation and who enjoy reading literary, character-driven stories that make you more open and empathetic before going back to work.
Barack Obama’s summer reading list:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A true classic of world literature, this novel paints a picture of traditional society wrestling with the arrival of foreign influence, from Christian missionaries to British colonialism. A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world.
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o 🌟TFP Pick
A chronicle of the events leading up to Kenya’s independence, and a compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. This definitive memoir traces the arc of his life from a small village, to his years as a revolutionary, to his long imprisonment, and ultimately his ascension to unifying President, leader, and global icon. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand history – and then go out and change it.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From one of the world’s great contemporary writers comes the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.
The Return by Hisham Matar
A beautifully-written memoir that skillfully balances a graceful guide through Libya’s recent history with the author’s dogged quest to find his father who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons.
The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.